NYS wind energy and related updates

Items from around the web:

Beacon Power breaks ground on 20MW flywheel energy storage project in Stephentown, NY.  (OTC Investor, 11/24)

ACENY files petition for rehearing in New York State Public Service Commission proceeding In the Matter of Generator-Specific Energy Deliverability Study (Case 09-E-0497) (NYS PSC, 11/19). Petition is in regards to new PSC requirement that renewable energy projects produce transmission studies prior to obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). See earlier write up here.

New York State passes law to bolster New York’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency in homes and businesses throughout the state. The legislation (Extraordinary Session Assembly Bill A.40004/Sweeney) allows New York state municipalities to establish the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in order to apply for more than $400 million in federal funds to issue as loans to qualifying homeowners and businesses to install energy efficient retrofits and renewable energy (including wind) systems. Bill was signed into law by Governor Paterson on November 19.  (NYS Assembly, 11/16)

Ecogen sues Town of Prattsburgh in state Supreme Court in Rochester. (Stueben Courier, 11/19)

And lastly, if you’re going to drink this holiday season, you might as well do it thanks to wind power. Or something like that. (Open Forum blog, 11/20) (And if you drink or develop wind power projects, please do so responsibly.)

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NY Governor Paterson announces battery and energy storage consortium

New York Governor David A. Paterson on May 5

announced the creation the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (known as NY BEST), implementing a key goal identified in his State of the State address and helping to position New York as the global leader in energy storage technology. The research and development initiative is one of the first of its kind in the nation and is a critical component in advancing the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) industry in New York.

Under the guidance of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), NY BEST will capitalize on the State’s existing technical and industrial capabilities and help bring together scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to advance New York’s clean energy and storage technology industries. The State will invest more than $25 million to finance the Consortium, using funding from New York’s participation in the federal Clean Air Interstate Rule. A portion of that funding will also go toward the development of a battery-testing laboratory to be located in New York…

Additional information on the NY BEST Consortium is available on the NYSERDA website at http://www.nyserda.org/cair/nybest/.

Wind energy developments in NYS and the USA

New York wind developments

Proposed Fresh Kills (Staten Island) wind farm update. Staten Island Advance 3/16

Consolidated Edison and Long Island Power Authority announce plan to take 350-700 MW offshore project planning the next step. LIPA and Con Edison will work with the state, the New York Power Authority, New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Port Authority to issue a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) for off-shore wind development.  Con-Ed 3/23

NYISO, New York’s electric grid operator, asks Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to allow Limited Energy Storage Resources (LESR) – which includes battery and flywheel technologies – to provide the “regulation” service needed to balance electrical supply and demand on the grid. NYISO is requesting FERC to approve changes in the NYISO tariff to permit LESRs to provide regulation service by mid-May 2009. NYISO 3/24

More on Governor Paterson’s apparent interest in scaling back the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce carbon emissions. Albany Times Union 3/23 More on RGGI here at NYSERDA’s website.

State has mixed success making goal of having renewables (the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS) be substantial part of energy consumption mix. Associated Press in Newsday 3/22

Schenectady-based GE shoots for five-fold increase in European turbine sales in 2009. Reuters 3/16

USA wind developments

Acting FERC chair favors enhanced national transmission line system. Wall Street Journal 3/19

With a hyperbolic headline about hypobaric trauma, this article discusses how research from Iberdrola Renewables suggests cutting off turbines at low wind speeds may result in fewer bat deaths. Washington Times 3/23

New report released by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory for wind developers.

The purpose of this report is to both quantitatively and qualitatively analyze, from the project developer/owner perspective, the choice between the PTC and the ITC (or equivalent cash grant) for a number of different renewable power technologies.

LBNL and NREL (by Mark Bolinger, Ryan Wiser, Karlynn Cory and Ted James), March 2009

Transmission and storage

With a spate of recent articles, it would seem the New York Times has discovered wind energy. A new article, this time on the transmission challenge:

When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.

and another on the storage issue

When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg dreamed out loud last week about a New York skyline filled with wind turbines, one of the most serious issues raised by the naysayers was that the wind does not always blow when you need it.

But a New Jersey company plans to announce on Tuesday that it is working on a solution to this perennial problem with wind power: using wind turbines to produce compressed air that can be stored underground or in tanks and released later to power generators during peak hours.

A very nice and very current piece from the Department of Energy summarizes renewable energy transmission challenges.

New clean energy storage solution on horizon?

Energy storage is a bit of a holy grail when it comes to wind production. While wind’s energy source is ostensibly free, it’s variable. The wind blows when it wants, and may not blow during peak times of consumption, or may blow when energy demand is low. So how does one store the wind energy produced but not used?

Renewable Energy World reports on an MIT fuel cell breakthrough that could help to answer this question:

The key component in Nocera and Kanan’s process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity — whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source — runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Renewable Energy World article on MIT breakthrough here.

MIT press release on same here.

Transmission and storage

Two core issues that make relying on wind energy a challenge are transmission and storage. Wind generation is inherently variable. Some days are windy, but not every day. Wind can blow more strongly at night, when demand for electricity is relatively low. Wind generation facilities are often on the fringes of the electric grid. The recent Department of Energy report endorsing the notion that wind could provide 20% of the country’s electric generation by 2030 cites transmission as a chief, if not the chief, impediment. Getting wind energy from the source to electric outlets, when demand is high, can vex the most ardent supporters of wind.

Two recent press reports offer some insight into where we are now.

NYRI transmission project

First is an opinion piece in UticaOD.com offered by the president of the New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. or NYRI.  In May 2006, the NYRI proposed a project to the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) to construct and maintain a 190-mile, 1200 megawatt electrical transmission line from upstate (Marcy) to downstate (New Windsor). Information on PSC Case No. 06-T-0650 may be found here.

Without commenting on the merits of this proposal, it is nevertheless reasonably accepted that New York’s electricity infrastucture is aging and potentially in danger of not being able to keep up with projected demand over the long term, especially assuming that demand continues to increase as expected. Downstate, home to the state’s population centers, drives demand. As renewables such as wind (largely produced upstate) are expected to contribute increasingly to the generation mix, it is reasonable to ask “how are we going to make this happen?” The PSC, at least initially, will determine whether the NYRI will be a part of the answer.

Wind energy storage

Another potential partial solution may be storage. The ability to store energy generated during times of low need to be used during high demand periods is of course desirable, if not essential. Renewable Energy World has an interesting summary update on the status of industrial scale storage. As the article indicates:

The benefits of storage are significant, especially in integrating distributed generation. Storage protects against mistakes in forecasting, removes barriers in connecting renewable sources to a variety of grids, shifts demand peaks by storing off-peak energy to sell back to the grid during peak times, provides frequency regulation and deters expensive grid upgrades.

The article references a meeting of the Electricity Storage Association. Learn everything you’d like to about the Electricity Storage Association here.